When I came to Pennsylvania, I knew I wanted to stay for six weeks instead of my usual four. The REACH conference was happening near the end of March, and I really really wanted to go.
REACH is a Mennonite conference where missions of all types gather and network. Which means lots of sessions talking about cross cultural communication, aka the topic on which I am the geekiest.
Until I came to Pennsylvania, I always knew where I was going next. There was no particular rhyme or reason to my choosing method. Either the location was convenient, or I missed the Ocean, or I was cold, or I wanted to go to REACH…there was always something that made it very clear where the next destination should be.
I wasn’t in Pennsylvania long before people started asking, “Where are you going next?” Oops. Guess I should figure something out. So I’d reply, “I haven’t decided yet. Do you have any good ideas?”
I wasn’t too worried at first. I had six weeks to figure it out, after all. But time went on, and no place stood out as the obvious place to go next, and then Ian was killed and I forgot all about finding a new place until suddenly I only had two weeks left in PA.
That was the day I drove down to my cousin Annette’s house for the first time in the entire four weeks I’d been in PA. How did this happen? Where did the time go? Good grief!
I don’t remember if it was Annette who suggested that maybe I should stay in PA longer, or if I came up with the notion myself while conversing with her. In any case, there it was, sudden and obvious. I wasn’t ready to leave Pennsylvania yet.
But where would I stay?
I didn’t really want to stay at my place in Myerstown for another month. Most of my close friends, as well as the church I attended and the best coffee shops, were down in Lancaster, and sometimes the drive took me an hour. Also my roommates, Leah and Rochelle, were best friends with each other. With Leah planning to get married soon, I thought it would be nice if they could have their last bit of roommate time together without me interfering.
I started putting out feelers for people in Lancaster city who might have a room to rent me. And meanwhile, to extend my window of time a bit, I texted my friend Rosalyn and asked if I could spend a week in Philadelphia with her. (There is more to this story, but that will come in a later blog post, all about Philadelphia.)
So anyway, throughout this process I was feeling uncertainty like I’ve never before felt on this trip. There’s a certain anxiety in not knowing where you’ll be living in two weeks. Logically I knew it didn’t matter so much…if all else failed I could get an Airbnb, or get in my car and drive back to Oregon. But the anxiety of uncertainty was still there.
With one thing and another, it was two weeks from the time I first got the idea to stay longer in PA to when I got a confirmation on a place I could live. Rochelle had suggested that Esther Swartzentruber might know of a place, and Esther directed me to her pal Bettina, and hey! Bettina was willing to let me move in on short notice.
By the time this confirmation occurred, I had moved out of Rochelle and Leah’s place and was staying in an Airbnb with my parents and brother Ben. Because they all came to PA for the REACH conference.
(There’s more to that story too. Again, for a later blog post.)
So then, things had worked out as they usually do. I had a place to stay. I was surrounded by my family. Things should be going well, right?
But there was a little more drama in store for my life, believe it or not.
To be continued…